Thursday, June 25, 2009

High-Ho, Heigh-Ho, Its Back On Drugs I Go

I went to the doctor about my back this morning. I’ve had a nagging pain for the last many months in and around the spot where I ruptured the disk a few years ago. Over the last couple of months, though, the pain has gotten worse. I’d been doing pretty well, tolerating it as much as possible and not letting it slow me down too much, but then Tuesday evening I started having muscle spasms. Seeing as how I’m the only human in my household, having nearly incapacitating spasms is just not a good thing. On the upside, though, I’m sure someone from work would start to worry when I didn’t show up the next day...

At any rate, the doctor confirmed that the problem is that stupid ruptured disk again, and I very likely have a pinched nerve on the left side (because of the disk and the inflammation). He said that the reason I also have pain on the right side is because the muscles have stiffened up so much that they’re actually inflaming the nerves on that side. Sigh. For now, we’re going to try a non-invasive option – oral steroids. I’ve got a week of prednisone to take, and if there’s no significant improvement, I’m to call the doc next Wednesday. He’s hoping the prednisone will at least help the problem on the right side, if not so much on the left. If there’s no improvement, he’ll send me to someone for a round of epidural shots. I’d prefer to avoid that, if possible, but we’ll just have to see what happens. Doc also gave me hydrocodone to help me get through the next few days, which I definitely appreciate. I took my first hydrocodone right after lunch, and my back already feels so much better. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: drugs are your friend.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

And Spreads…

Belle, Loki and Mikey are all over their respective colds, thank goodness. But now Parm and Per’la both have it. Parm’s record is a 17-sneeze fit. Pretty impressive, really. Khar seems to have missed out on the bug so far. If we’re really lucky, this will end with one cycle through the clowder, and not keep hitting the cats over and over.

And speaking of sickness, Duncan has been sick this weekend in a different and much more unpleasant way. I’m hoping its just the heat making him feel icky and he’ll get better as it cools down a bit next week.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Saving For A Rainy Day

As a general rule, I don’t do dog apparel. Especially not for German shepherds. And just to clarify, I don’t consider the worn-once-a-year-for-ten-minutes birthday hat or Christmas kerchief to be dog apparel. I’m talking about actual clothes for dogs. Two weeks ago, though, I broke my own rule. Reyna’s rehab is very important to me, and I don’t want the weather to get in the way. While Reyna may not care if she gets soaking wet in the rain, and I don’t really care if I get soaking wet, I do care about the potential problems of putting a soaking wet dog in a crate and leaving for several hours. You may not realize this, but Reyna is darn near impossible to dry off with a towel. Or even several towels. You think she’s dry, but then she shakes (or spins), and suddenly she’s soaking wet again. That undercoat of hers is useful for many things, including storing large amounts of water. So, to cut down on the amount of wet dog going into a crate after a morning walk in the rain, I decided to buy Reyna a rain coat. Yes, I said it. A rain coat. I found an inexpensive one online, ordered it based on the manufacturer’s specifications, and got it early last week. The neck and girth fit just fine, but it was six inches too short on her back. I called the company I bought it from, spoke to a very nice lady in customer service, and had her measure the length of the next size up. In between me returning the too-short coat and her shipping the new coat, of course, we had those lovely torrential downpours. Reyna’s new coat arrived yesterday afternoon. It’s a bit big around the girth, but I can fix that. The important thing is that its long enough. It also has elastic straps that you’re supposed to slide the rear legs through – they keep the coat from sliding side to side – but I haven’t decided yet if we’ll actually use those. They pull the coat back just far enough to keep it from covering as much of her neck as I’d like. And no, I did not order a coat for Duncan. I don’t think you could put anything on him that would convince him that he wouldn’t actually melt from taking a walk in the rain.

But if you think its wrong for a dog to wear that rain coat, as simple as it is, just remember, I could have gone with something like this:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

6 Week Split

Today, Reyna is 6 weeks post-op. We’re halfway there! Well, technically, we’re a bit more than halfway, because I’m the type of person who likes to schedule well in advance. July 30 is Reyna’s official 12 weeks post-op day, when she’ll be cleared by the surgeon to go forth and live her life restriction free. I figured 6 weeks was close enough to seem reasonable for scheduling, so I called the vet school today to get Reyna on the surgeon’s calendar. He doesn’t have anything available the week of July 30. So Reyna gets to have her 12 week check on July 20, at 10.5 weeks. Because you know what? I sure wasn’t willing to wait until mid-August to have him tell me she’s fine.

Reyna’s been handling the day-long confinement very well this week. In fact, I think she’s handling that better than I’m handling being back in the office. I’ll admit that there are certain things that are easier to do in the office, but I really miss being home all day. A lot of folks thought I’d get cabin fever, but I never did. Becky (the pet sitter) has been going by the house around lunch time this week and letting Reyna out for a potty break and some exercise. I’m sure that’s been helping, but Reyna’s still nuts when I get home in the evening. I haven’t gotten home later than 6:00 yet, which isn’t exactly thrilling the boss-folks, but hey, I have a dog in a crate. I’m not willing to stay in the office until 7:00 (or later), knowing she’s sitting there cooped up, building huge amounts of energy, just waiting to explode into insanity. The confinement may actually be helping just a bit, because she’s seemed to be more energetic on our walks. That’s probably a combination of excess energy and increasing muscle and stamina. We’re still walking a mile twice a day, and I’ve figured out a couple of routes to give us the distance but vary the view (and smells). I figure we’ll stay at that distance until its just too easy for her, and then we’ll increase again. After all, I don’t want to risk pushing her too hard, too fast.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Yesterday, Loki turned 11 years old. Happy birthday!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Save Our Sanity!

We are 38 days post-op today and those not-so-crazy meds Reyna’s been taking the last few weeks aren’t so effective anymore. Reyna’s back to her old self, including the spinning. She’s still taking the meds, because I’m hoping they’re providing at least some calming influence. I shudder to think how she’d be if she wasn’t taking anything at all. Reyna’s also very unhappy with the current restrictions. She tried to eat Duncan’s head the other day, and not in a playful manner. Duncan felt the need to actively defend himself. It was the closest those two have ever come to an actual fight.

Reyna’s limp is almost completely gone – the only time I see it is when she first gets up after a prolonged rest period (although there aren’t many that would qualify as “prolonged” anymore). We’re up to a mile during each of our morning and evening walks. Reyna was starting to lag behind on our walks, and I figured she’d just gotten really bored with making laps in our cul-de-sac, so I finally decided to start walking across the road into the main neighborhood. The first time we did that, she immediately perked up. If the weather were cooler, I’d have added a mid-day walk just to help keep her relaxed, but its too hot for woman or beast to be walking on the road in the middle of the day. The two walks help, but there are a whole lot of hours in between them for her to go nutty. Over the weekend, I decided to try relaxing the restrictions just a bit – a happy medium between what the surgeon recommended and what is necessary to keep Reyna calm. When we went out in the yard, I let her off the leash – still no running (ha!), jumping, wrestling, or chasing Duncan’s ball. She didn’t try to really run very often, but she did do quite a bit of quick trotting (and spinning). I kept an eye out for any sign of a limp to indicate that she’d overdone it. For the most part, the experiment went pretty well, although she did have a couple of small incidents where she very obviously strained the leg a bit. Nothing serious, but not something I want her doing. I have no idea how things are going to go starting tomorrow, since I have to go back to the office and she’ll be crated all day. The sitter and I will swap out giving her a break during lunch, but I’m still pretty sure our evenings are going to be miserable.

Overall, Reyna is doing extremely well. The difference in just a few short weeks is amazing. As a reminder, here she was the day she came home, the day after the surgery (the silly expression is because she sneezed).

These pictures I took two days ago. The second shot isn't a great pose, but I included it to show the change in her incision/scar. The fur has grown over it enough so all that is visible is an odd ridge.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Sickness Spreads

For the first time in a long time, something not about Reyna....

Half the cats are sick. It started with Belle: sneezing, runny eyes, maybe some grumpiness (but with her, who can really tell?). A few days later, Loki's eyes were running more than usual, and then the sneezing started. Yesterday, Mikey started sneezing, and he's definitely grumpy. So far, the kittens are fine, and I really hope it stays that way. Its become something of a game, trying to guess which cat is sneezing just from the sound. Belle has long sneezing fits, and Loki's sneezes sound very moist. Mikey doesn't have a distinctive sneeze yet, but I'm sure he will in a day or so. Poor kitties.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Reyna has always had a strong dislike of birds, particularly the ones with the nerve to land in her yard. For some reason, though, the squirrels never bothered her. I remember watching her relax in the yard, occasionally glancing over at the fat squirrels eating at the bird feeder. She didn’t get up to run them off until a bird landed on the feeder. All of that changed four weeks ago. I don’t know what happened while she was in surgery – maybe she had a nightmare about monster squirrels – but ever since she came home, she’s been practically rabid about keeping the squirrels out of the yard.

Since Reyna is not allowed to run or jump – and certainly not allowed to tear around the yard after furry rodents – Duncan has been an excellent job of taking care of it for her. He seems to really enjoy it, although I don’t know what he’d do if he ever caught one. He’s come close a couple of times, and it helps that he doesn’t bark at them first.

The squirrels occasionally run though the fence and into my neighbor’s yard, but they usually run up the tree near the fence and hang out there for a few minutes. Thank goodness I have a little fence around the flower bed surrounding the tree – otherwise, Duncan would have destroyed the bed by now.

Once the squirrels get tired of waiting for the dogs to go away, they hop onto a nearby Leland cypress, cross the neighbor’s shed, and stroll onto the branch of the tree at the edge of the woods. While this is happening, Reyna is usually whining, pacing, snapping, staring and practically frothing at the mouth. Did I mention that she really hates these squirrels?

Reyna is so ferocious and terrifying that, about five minutes after she goes back inside, the squirrels are back at the bird feeder.

A Major Milestone

Today is a significant day for us. The big fears are over. Reyna is 28 days post-op, which means we’ve crossed a huge hurdle. As of the 4 week mark, Reyna is officially out of the high risk period. Unless she starts chewing on her scar, infection is no longer a concern. Dislocating the hip is also a non-issue now. She’ll still be on leash or otherwise confined for the next 8 weeks, but that’s more to control the healing and prevent set-backs. Now we start building muscle mass. We’ve been taking short walks twice a day for the last few days, and we’re up to just over 4 tenths of a mile with each walk. That doesn’t sound like much, but I don’t want to push things. We’ll be building the distance as time passes. Reyna is really enjoying getting outside and sniffing the various smells (and occasionally being loved on by neighbors). Her limp seems to be fading just a bit more each day, and the walks are helping to relax her. Thank goodness for that, because she’s definitely feeling the confinement these days. Depending on how miserable the weather is each day, I’m going to try adding a third walk to our routine. We’ll see how that goes.